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Beta-blocker management of refractory hemoptysis in cystic fibrosis: a novel treatment approach.



/objective: Recurrent hemoptysis is a debilitating complication of cystic fibrosis (CF) and likely results from mucosal erosions into abnormal bronchial blood vessels due to chronic respiratory infection. We hypothesize that the use of beta-blockade will decrease mean arterial pressure resulting in lower bronchial artery blood flow and, subsequently, decrease the frequency and severity of hemoptysis, rate of hospitalizations, and usage of intravenous antibiotics.


Retrospective chart review was performed on 12 CF patients with recurrent hemoptysis, aged 13-40 years old, along with a follow-up telephone survey to assess the effectiveness of beta-blockade for hemoptysis, tolerance of inhaled respiratory medications, activity tolerance, and potential adverse effects. A beta-blocker, specifically atenolol, was initiated in all subjects within 24 hours after experiencing recurrent hemoptysis episodes.


A majority of patients (72.7%) had complete cessation of hemoptysis. There were significant decreases in the frequency of hemoptysis (p = 0.02) and the amount of hemoptysis (p = 0.004). The rate of hospitalizations significantly decreased from 1.33 to 0.67 (p = 0.05) after initiation of atenolol. There was a trend toward statistical significance in the reduction of intravenous antibiotics use (p = 0.08). No statistical difference was found when comparing the pre- and post-treatment means of forced expiratory volume in 1-second (p = 0.59). Very minimal adverse effects were observed with only one patient reporting intermittent facial flushing.


Beta-blockade, particularly with atenolol, appears to successfully treat, if not resolve, recurrent hemoptysis refractory to conservative therapy in CF. Beta-blocker therapy appears to maintain an effective safety profile in CF.

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